6 Serious Side Effects Of Prunes You Must Know

A seemingly harmless dried fruit that can adversely affect your body when over-consumed.

Medically reviewed by Madhu SharmaMadhu Sharma, RD
By Ravi Teja TadimallaRavi Teja Tadimalla, Professional Certificate In Food, Nutrition & Health  • 

Many of the side effects of prunes may cause you to think twice before consuming this natural laxative. These cousins of the plum typically come in dried form. You can use these fruits in sweet and savory dishes like stews, North African tagines, compote tzimmes, cakes, and soups.

Prunes are a common home remedy for constipation. Children and adults alike can use prune juice to treat constipation. However, taking this fruit in excess may adversely affect your body. This article examines the side effects of prunes and their scientific basis. Take a look below.

protip_icon Know The Flip Side: Prunes

Short-Term Effects
May cause weight gain, dark stools, and bloating.

Long-Term Effects
May cause cancer and diarrhea.

Drug Interactions
May interact with blood thinners.

When To See A Doctor
If you get allergic reactions like itching and inflammation in the mouth and throat, you must consult a doctor immediately.

protip_icon Trivia
The FDA approved the name change of prunes to “dried plums” in 2001. The rebranding was due to the consumer stereotype that prunes are medicinal food and for managing constipation.

What Are The Side Effects Of Prunes?

Prunes do make your bowel movements smoother and offer some other benefits too. But like everything else in nature, prunes too can cause a few side effects. Here are a few side effects of eating prunes:

1. Dangers Of Acrylamide

Prunes are dangerous because of acrylamide

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Prunes contain a high concentration of acrylamide, which is considered a carcinogen and a neurotoxin (1). Acrylamide is not naturally found in normal food, except when it is cooked at temperatures above 100° C.

According to Food and Agriculture Organization, the amount of acrylamide required to cause neuropathic harm is about 500 times the daily dietary intake. So, consuming prunes is relatively safe. However, the carcinogenicity is a concern as prunes were found to be highly carcinogenic to the animals that were tested in labs.

2. Prunes Can Cause Diarrhea

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The insoluble fiber in prunes can cause or worsen diarrhea. This is why you need to avoid them when you have diarrhea (2). There have also been certain cases of people who had experienced diarrhea post the ingestion of prunes and prune juice (3). This can be attributed to the laxative property of prunes. They are natural laxatives as they contain a laxative compound called sorbitol. So, an unregulated dose or having too many of these fruits can easily lead to diarrhea, electrolyte imbalance or even an allergic reaction.

Some sources also talk about the dietary fructose intolerance found in many individuals, which can also lead to abdominal pain and diarrhea. Prunes contain high amounts of sugar, which might trigger such a problem.

3. May Lead To Weight Gain

Weight gain may be a side-effect of overeating prunes

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One serving of 6 uncooked prunes contains 137 calories and 22 grams of sugar. That sure is a little on the higher end. And a one-cup serving of prune juice contains about 185 calories. Though the fiber in the fruit can aid weight loss, taking them in excess can have the opposite effect.

Prunes also have a high glycemic load (how much any particular food will raise a person’s glucose levels post consumption) (4). This means consuming prunes can elevate your blood sugar levels more than most other fruits.

4. Can Cause Intestinal Gas And Bloating

Prunes may cause bloating and intestinal gas

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Prunes contain complex carbohydrates and sugars that do not completely break down in the digestive tract (5). So, when the sugars reach the colon, the bacteria start feeding on these undigested carbohydrates.

These bacteria are responsible for intestinal gas and bloating. This can also lead to farting. You can take alpha-D-galactosidase before eating prunes as it reduces intestinal gas by breaking down the complex carbohydrates before they reach your gut.

5. May Lead To Laxative Dependency

Prunes may cause constipation

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Prunes are mostly used as irritant laxatives. However, those who suffer from frequent constipation should not rely on prunes completely to clear their digestive system. This can lead to laxative dependency after a certain period of usage, which can aggravate the condition and cause nutrient deficiency among other complications (6).

6. May Cause Dark Stools

Prunes are rich in iron and, like most iron-rich foods, can cause dark stools if taken in excess.

Prunes have their own set of side effects, but you can still consume them in moderation.

Infographic: When You Should Avoid Eating Prunes Or Exercise Caution

Prunes can have some adverse effects when consumed in excess. That does not, however, discount their many beneficial effects on the body. The trick, thus, is to consume them in moderation. But some individuals may be more sensitive to prunes than others due to their nutrient profile. Check out the infographic to find out who should avoid eating prunes or exercise caution before adding them to their diet.

when you should avoid eating prunes or exercise (infographic)

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protip_icon Quick Tip
According to Ayurveda, excess prunes may lead to vata imbalance, which may cause joint pain and inflammation.

Prunes are a delicious addition to confectioneries, however, excess consumption may lead to adverse reactions. The side effects of prunes range from causing digestive discomfort and diarrhea to unwanted weight gain and dehydration. The consumption of prunes in excess can have detrimental effects on your gut health. It may cause gas, bloating, or darken your stools. Usually, prunes are consumed for their natural laxative effects, however, one can become dependent on them and this may result in many complications. If possible, try to limit your intake or stay away from it entirely to avoid such issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can diabetics eat prunes?

“Yes. Since prunes are rich in soluble fiber content, this slows down the absorption of the natural sugar they contain. They are low-glycemic fruits, perfect for people with diabetes. But it’s essential to note that quantity is important. If someone with diabetes eats too many prunes, their sugar intake may be too high. So, two to three prunes per day is a good serving size for people with diabetes,” says Eva De Angelis, Dietitian Nutritionist.

Can dried prunes cause acid reflux?

Eva De Angelis says, “It depends. While some foods have been linked to acid reflux, the effects can be different for different people. And this also applies to prunes. For some, this dried fruit can be a healthy choice and even make them feel better. Yet, for others, prunes can lead to acid reflux.”

Are dried prunes unhealthy?

“No. Prunes made just from plums, with no added sugar, are nourishing and rich in fiber, calcium, boron, and potassium, all essential minerals for bone health. A serving size of 5 to 6 prunes per day is a good amount. Yet, like any dried fruit, they are high in natural sugars, so eating too much can be detrimental.” says Eva.

What happens if you eat prunes every day?

Prunes are loaded with many beneficial nutrients. However, eating them in excess may cause diarrhea.

Can prunes give you a stomach ache?

Prunes contain sorbitol, which is hard to digest for some people. This may trigger stomach aches, bloating, and mild nausea.

Are prunes good for IBS?

Eva De Angelis says, “This greatly depends on each individual and on the type of IBS they have. For example, if you have IBS with mostly constipation, prunes can act as a natural laxative due to their high fiber content. But if you experience IBS with mostly diarrhea, they are not the best choice.”

Key Takeaways

  • Prunes are high in calories and eating them in excess may cause one to gain weight. Their high fiber content also contributes to gastrointestinal issues, such as diarrhea.
  • It may cause gas and bloating in some people if they consume it in excess amounts due to their carbohydrate percentage.
  • In addition, prunes may cause dark stool if consumed in excess due to high iron content.


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. “Acrylamide and cancer risk.” National Cancer Institute.
  2. “When you have diarrhea.” US National Library of Medicine.
  3. “Factitious diarrhea.” US National Library of Medicine.
  4. “Changes in intake of fruits and…” US National Library of Medicine.
  5. “Bloating 101: Why you feel bloated.” WebMD.
  6. “Constipation in older adults.” US National Library of Medicine.
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